The Nishnaabemwin restructuring controversy: new empirical evidence
PublisherCAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS
CitationBowers, D. (2019). The Nishnaabemwin restructuring controversy: New empirical evidence. Phonology, 36(2), 187-224. doi:10.1017/S0952675719000113
Rights© Cambridge University Press 2019
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AbstractThe categorical deletion of unstressed vowels from iterative feet differentiates serial theories of phonology from parallel theories. Of at least equal importance is whether language learners acquire rhythmic syncope. A potentially illustrative case comes from the recent development of Nishnaabemwin (Algonquian), which extended unstressed vowel reduction until it approximated categorical rhythmic syncope. In response, an entire generational cohort reportedly carried out a dramatic restructuring by innovating a novel set of person prefixes and losing the surface alternations. However, the original reports are subject to some dispute. To shed further light on the status of rhythmic syncope in Modern Nishnaabemwin, this paper details three surveys of the first cohort of speakers born during the near-syncope period. The surveys indicate that, despite familiarity with the original system, the entire generational cohort uniformly adopted the innovative system.
VersionFinal accepted manuscript
SponsorsSocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada